What Happens in Rock Vegas, Stays in Rock Vegas

Football. Golf. Bowling. Frederick J. Flintstone is a bona fide three-sport star. The main character of the animated sitcom The Flintstones, which aired during prime-time on ABC from 1960 to 1966, has a long list of exploits. Not only one of the most recognizable figures in show business history, he also played college football under the call sign ‘Twinkletoes’. He once won his city golf championship, and is the best bowler the town of Bedrock has ever seen. Ole’ Freddie boy is a man of many talents. Gambling, though, isn’t one of them. In fact, the sheer mention of the word ‘bet’ causes him to stutter and stammer uncontrollably. Despite all his Hollywood success, he has a serious problem.

Fred Flintstone

With standout athletic qualities and an abundance of natural talent and skill, it’s hard to fathom Flintstone’s misfortune when it comes to wagering. You’d think gambling would be right up his alley but, in bowling parlance, he is rolling gutter balls. A selflessly devoted husband and father, Fred is also insane, impulsive and ill-tempered at times. These traits leave him vulnerable to huge losses, sad schemes and tilt. You might say, he is not exactly fit for high stakes action. Even worse, it affects his home life.

“Wilma! Oh, Wilma,” he once bellowed, as he excitedly raced through the front door with a pocket full of money. “I’m glad you’re still up, honey. Guess what happened on my way home?”

Please Gamble Responsibly

The truth on what happened is that he had been out playing poker with his best friend Barney Rubble. They just couldn’t pass up the lucrative home game at Sam Quartz’s house with the likes of Stanley Stonebruise, who is widely considered one of the weaker players in town. Stonebruise was the so-called ‘fish’ with deep pockets. Flintstone was right to go because he had a good night, winning about 200 ‘clams’. The problem? He had lied to his wife Wilma earlier in the evening about being “too tired” to see a movie at the Bedrock Cinema, and didn’t want his wife to know how he came about the winnings. Instead of being truthful, he pretends to have found the money in a lost wallet. As you might expect with cartoons, one lie leads to another and wild escapades ensue.

Fred Flintstone gambling

When Wilma, who knew all along about the poker, finally demands the truth, Flintstone fibs yet again by suggesting the loot belonged to Barney. The episode is called The Little White Lie (season 2, Episode 9), originally aired in 1961, and depicted a series of little white lies throughout, but also a painted a vivid picture of the grimness of gambling addiction. When you start lying about something, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, or even sex, chances are you have a problem. Remember, addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can affect all kinds of people, in all walks of life, even Fred Flintstone.

By the way, Barney gleefully used his new-found clams to treat his wife Betty and the Flintstones to an expensive dinner, and Fred’s frustration is painfully evident. What are friends for, right?

Wagering Woes

Another sure sign of addiction? Fred’s childhood nickname was ‘Betting Freddie’. Yes, it started early for our adorable leading man. According to the website flintstones.fandom.com, whenever the word ‘bet’ is mentioned, Fred hears bells and whistles and will “quiver and roll his eyes and repeat the word over and over like a clucking chicken.”

Not long after The Little White Lie, Flintstone is once again in a spot of bother following some shenanigans in The Gambler (Season 2, Episode 16). In an effort to deal with his addiction, and on Wilma’s order, Fred visits a psychiatrist, who urges him to muster the will-power required to quit betting. Good doctor or bad diagnosis?

Fred Flintstone at Doctor

Debt of Honour?

Of course, Fred is not really cured of his vice, and viewers watch along in disbelief as he continues to make bad decisions. First, while attempting to cancel his newspaper subscription, he offers the newspaper boy Arnold “double-or-nothing” on a game of marbles for the $22.12 in fees owing. You guessed it; he loses. He bets double-or-nothing again and again, and each time he loses. And, he was making bets he couldn’t cover. Not wanting to welch, Fred hands over the family television set and living room furniture until he can pay off the debt.

“Tell ya what Fred, we’ll play for a nickel if you wanna bet?”

Later, in an attempt to right his wrong, Fred falls further from grace when he accepts Barney’s proposal and swindles him out of the Rubble TV set, a betrayal so egregious it prompts his pal to say, as he’s delivering the television, “Fred Flintstone is no friend of mine.”

In one scene, after learning the truth, Betty says to Wilma incredulously, “a real gambler never goes back on his bets. They’ll skip house payments, the kids’ lunch money, but gambling debts are debts of honour.”

Viva Rock Vegas

We’ve all heard the saying, “what happens in Rock Vegas, stays in Rock Vegas”, but in reality, Fred Flintstone should never step foot in such a place. Bad things are bound to happen. The Rock Vegas Story (Season 2, Episode 28) hit the airwaves in March 1962, and told the sad tale of a degenerate gambler, his penchant for slot machines, and the resulting misery.

Fred Flintstone and slots

Fred’s betting habits, and subsequent sad state of affairs, are summed up nicely in one scene with this group conversation:

Wilma Flintstone: Have you made any plans, Fred?

Fred Flintstone: Yeah. I figure we can sell the car and then we’ll have enough money to eat.

Barney Rubble: While we’re hitchhiking home.

Wilma Flintstone, Betty Rubble: Hitchhiking home?

Wilma Flintstone: Fred Flintstone! Did you lose all our money?

Fred Flintstone: Yes, Wilma.

Wilma Flintstone, Betty Rubble: Oooooooh! MEN!

Selling the vehicle for food money? That’s addictive behaviour in a nutshell.

Early Warning Signs

The indications were always there, too. In The Flintstones very first year on the air, in front of a national prime time audience, Fred bet an entire week’s worth of wages on dinosaur-horses. In At the Races (Season 1, Episode 8), he and Barney concocted a scheme to win enough money to buy Boulder Dan’s Pool Hall.

Fred and Barney at the races

They failed, and Fred lost it all. Then, to complicate things more, he put up his possessions as collateral so that he could wager some more. Proof that perhaps his trademark catch phrase should have been “yabba dabba don’t!”

Yes, Fred Flintstone is a problem gambler.

Again, please gamble responsibly.

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver Dewan is the founder of High Roller Radio, and has interviewed a number of the world’s top poker players including Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Barbara Enright. A former, long-time radio and television broadcaster, Derrick has always had a passion for all things gambling (and darts too). He has even played at the World Series of Poker and other cash games all around the world.

To see more of Derrick is up to on a day-to-day basis, go follow him on Twitter @HighRollerRadio

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